- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2002

It was a horror show that Maryland hopes doesn't have a sequel.
Last year, Florida State quarterback Chris Rix torched the Terrapins' defense particularly the secondary in the fatal fourth quarter of their game. The then-freshman quarterback launched balls high and deep and watched his speedy, athletic receivers run them down. Rix threw three touchdown passes to turn a tie game after three periods into a blowout.
"I fast forwarded through a lot of those clips when we were showing tape," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, who is preparing for Saturday's game with fifth-ranked Florida State at Byrd Stadium.
The Seminoles' 52-31 win ended Maryland's season-opening seven-game winning streak.
"I was destroyed by my performance at that time," said Maryland's Dennard Wilson, Rix's favorite Terps defensive back to pick on that day. "It's a learning experience. I played my worst game, but you have to grow from it."
Rix threw for 350 yards and five touchdowns, and the sophomore must be itching to get to College Park and light up the Terps again. The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) return most of the offense, including a veteran offensive line and receiver Talman Gardner, who had three touchdowns and 140 yards against Maryland.
The Terps (1-1, 0-0) will try to slow Rix and Co. with a secondary that has been retooled since their visit to Tallahassee. Cornerback Curome Cox is the only full-time starter back from last season. Domonique Foxworth and Cox provide a formidable set of corners. Wilson, who was pressed into starting at cornerback against the Seminoles last year, is the strong safety. And Madieu Williams, who had two interceptions last week against Akron, is at free safety.
"I always thought last year if we had Tony [Okanlawon], that game might have been different," Friedgen said of being without the All-ACC performer. "It's how well you can cover those guys. They can run. We all know that. Domonique and Curome will have their hands full. … We only can go with what we got. I can't go out and get new defensive backs."
Friedgen talked to Wilson after last year's game and told him, "You can't hide." That will be the theme for the secondary again as Florida State will test it often, especially if the Terps are forced to key on the run and leave corners in one-on-one coverage.
"I expect a lot of deep balls to my side," said Foxworth, a sophomore who did not play against Florida State last year. As Okanlawon missed more time, Foxworth was forced to play in the 10th game of the season and started in ACC-title clinching wins over Clemson and N.C. State.
Maryland defensive coordinator and secondary coach Gary Blackney blamed himself for the Florida State debacle. He believes he didn't make the correct adjustments with Okanlawon out and he could have implemented a better strategy, such as having linebackers deeper in coverage to help defensive backs.
"You make a mistake back there and it's six," he said, "and everybody knows you got a lousy coach."
Several times Maryland defenders made last-second mistakes. On other plays, Rix laid out perfect passes, giving defensive backs little chance to do anything.
The Terps are optimistic this time that the secondary can limit Rix. But beyond the starters, Maryland is thin at defensive back and will be without nickel back Ty Stewart, who will miss a second game with groin pull.
"I don't think speed was the issue last year," said Cox, a junior and third-year starter. "It was just a matter of making plays."
Note Tailback Bruce Perry will miss the game as he continues to rehabilitate from a torn groin. There is a good chance he will play Sept.21 against Eastern Michigan.


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